Waiting for the Dust to Settle: Anglo-Chinese Normalization and Nixon’s Historic Trip to China, 1971-1972

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This article examines the Anglo-Chinese negotiations over diplomatic normalization from a comparative perspective, and sheds valuable light on the transformation of the Cold War in the early 1970s. The Anglo-Chinese talks were inextricably linked with the complicated process of Sino-American rapprochement. At first, the White House kept Britain in the dark concerning its China initiative. After delivering the “shock” of his forthcoming China visit, Nixon asked Heath to delay reaching a deal with Beijing until the dust of the presidential party had settled. For all his initial outrage, Heath’s unsentimental attitude toward the “special relationship” made it easier for him to adjust to the “Nixon shock.” Ultimately, it was not the pressure from the White House, but the long-held British legal position that Taiwan’s status was “undetermined,” that prevented Britain from reaching an agreement with China until March 1972
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)876-903
Number of pages28
JournalDiplomatic History
Issue number5
Early online date27 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

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